Media and Crime

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Assess the ways in which the media stimulate moral panics and create folk devils.

Statistics

Williams found British newspapers devote 30% of their space to crime. However they give a very distorted image of crime, and this includes the creation of folk devils and moral panics.

Cohen and Young

News values and newsworthiness News media select and choose the types of crime they want to portray in the media. They choose ones that will gain popularity, ones with violence, dramatization, fear inducing or high status people. This helps to create folk devils as the crime chosen may be purposefully repetitive to make it seem a much larger problem than it is. Also, fiction also contributes to our viewing of crime, with 20% of films being crime related.

Becker

The main way folk devils are created is through labelling by the media e.g. Drugs, where certain characteristics are associated with a stereotypical group that are accused of being folk devils and a threat to society's values. This may create a SFP and amplify the problem with a never ending discovery of drug taking.

Cohen and Eldridge

Mods and Rockers. In the 60s the media not only exaggerated the conflict between the mods and rockers, it also exacerbated it. They paid people to cause conflict between the groups and made predictions about the conflict which instilled fear in the people, making stereotypes against similar people e.g. Rockers and normal bikers.

Evaluation of Cohen and Eldridge

Left realists argue that people's reaction to this crime is rational.

Cohen and Functionalists

The wider context. These media amplifications have come after times where older generations have been restricted e.g. War. At this time the younger generations attempt to free themselves from the restrictions put on them. Functionalists see moral panics as reasserting social controls when values are threatened.

Evaluation of Functionalists

McRobbie - Moral panics are now routine and have less impact, as there is little consensus about what is deviant. Most events have a short shelf life and are unlikely to be newsworthy for long enough to become a moral panic.

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